Social Media Influencer Melissa, better known on Instagram as YoursTruelyMelly, takes a moment to share her thoughts about The #BodyPositive Movement.
Have you heard of YoursTruelyMelly?
Melissa, better known on Instagram as YoursTruelyMelly, says her favorite color is “all the greens found in nature”, unabashedly shares her story of leaving a relationship to pursue a master’s degree, and leads a community of more than 150,000 that embraces the Body Positive Movement.
We were fortunate enough to interview her about the past, overcoming self-confidence issues, and her next steps as a graduate.
GS LOVE: The theme of body positive and self-love is something you talk about a lot. Tell us how you were first introduced to the body positive movement and if/how it’s changed your perspective.
Melissa Gibson of YoursTruelyMelly: I think I came upon the Body Positive Movement just like many of us do, I stumbled up on it. The first accounts I found were Tess Holliday‘s account and HonorMyCurves.
Honestly at first seeing women so comfortable with themselves at any size was something I was uncomfortable with, although now I just recognize that as me wanting it for myself and feeling like I would never get there. Even just those first few minutes stuck with me though. I started to question everything I had thought about my body and my weight. Over time it all didn’t seem to make sense anymore to hate my body or to see it as broken, when it obviously was capable and strong. I started to challenge myself little by little to own who I was. I started wearing tighter clothes, but the biggest change is when I started wearing red lipstick. I joke that red lipstick changed my life, but honestly, it did. In that moment, when I had it on, I knew I had to wear it confidently or it would like silly. So I did, and I haven’t looked back.
Over time it all didn’t seem to make sense anymore to hate my body or to see it as broken when it obviously was capable and strong.
The Body Positive Movement gives me a space to explore who I am without the hang-ups of the narrative of what I’m supposed to be as a fat woman. I get to say, I am sexy, I am strong, I am good, I am beautiful, or edgy, or creative, or cute. I get to define myself. It allows me the space to celebrate when I use my body and how I use it and to do the same for others. The movement is basically that, a celebration of who we are now. I’m really into that and we need more of it.
GS LOVE: Your posts about loving curves, the cellulite, the “unflattering” poses are absolutely so liberating! Many women, regardless of size, lack the self-esteem to fully embrace this concept. What major factors led you to such a freedom and joy in your self-love?
What advice can you give to other women who struggle with these concepts?
Melissa: Seeing other women doing it hands down liberated me and still does. Because when I see a woman just confidently owning who she is, lumps, bumps, and all, I can’t help but be blown away. It’s truly one of the most powerful and beautiful things because I know that takes hard work, it takes a lot of unraveling of misconceptions we have about our bodies, it takes courage. So they inspired me to do it as well, and you know what confidence and joy looks a lot better than “flattering” clothes. It also feels a lot better and the most amazing part is how revolutionary it is so that so many people are inspired to do it themselves after seeing you.
My advice is to do it. It’s scary yes, but remind yourself of all the bad ass babes who have inspired you and channel them. It’s a lot of fun and only gets easier.
We are part of something bigger, something that is going to change the world. – YoursTruelyMelly
GS LOVE: You’ve mentioned in your posts about leaving your former fiance and pursuing a higher education. What inspired such a dramatic change?
Melissa: So I actually got married when I was twenty-one and left him when I was twenty-six. That all happened around the same time that I was really just starting to flourish in my own Body Positive journey and realizing for the first time my own value. Our relationship ended for many reasons, but confidence made it possible for me to believe in myself and know I wanted more out of life. It’s the same reason I pursued my master’s degree, I wanted to challenge myself and I wanted to grow. I can’t tell you enough how much self-love and confidence have changed who I am and allowed me to pursue the things I was often too scared to pursue before.
GS LOVE: Speaking of education, you graduate with a master’s degree in Women and Gender Studies in May, right? Any big plans after graduation?
Melissa: Haha, that’s the big question! I don’t know what I’m going to do right away, but I can tell you what I want out of life in the next ten years or so. I eventually want to get my Ph.D., but that is a few years down the road until then I would love to live the kind of lifestyle where I get to travel and spend time developing strong relationships with all kinds of people. I’ve thought about teaching English overseas for a year or two. I’d love to work with a brand or brands to develop my own line of plus size clothes that especially pays attention to all the little fit issues I have and hear about from other fabulous plus size ladies. I’d love to live in New York City at some point in my life. I’m a dreamer and I can’t wait to make those dreams happen.
GS LOVE: What have you learned from your studies that you wish you could share with everyone?
Melissa: That Body Positivity comes out of a movement of Fat Liberation Activists who were fat and radical and fabulous since the 1970’s. There is even a Fat Liberation Manifesto that gives me all the feels. We are part of something bigger, something that is going to change the world.
Also, I’d love for us to also recognize the importance of being intersectional along identities of race, class, gender, ability, and sexuality. We really need to engage in these hard conversations because they matter more than we even know.
Lastly, I’d love to empower women and other gender minorities to trust themselves. Emotions and feelings are just as real and important as something we can see and touch. You deserve to be heard and listened to and respected.
GS LOVE: This last year you were featured by @MIC for @Donthatetheshake which inspires women to embrace their bodies and join the movement! Do you have any stats of how many women joined in on the dance?
Melissa: At this point we have just a little over ten-thousand followers on the official account and over two thousand video posts using the hashtag. I’m absolutely blown away by this. Shaking it for the world to see is not easy, but it sure is a lot of fun!
GS LOVE: You’ve been featured, sponsored, (almost) graduated — among a long list of which we haven’t seen through your IG account. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Melissa: My biggest accomplishment is that when this all first started and I left my husband at the same time, a lot of people made assumptions about why I was doing this. For the first time in my life I decided I wasn’t going to back down from doing something I needed to do and something I believed in that much because of what other people thought. It was hard, but the people that mattered I had a lot of long, hard conversations with. I had to hold my ground, but I also didn’t want to push people away. The relationship I have with my friends and family in spite of all of that and honestly because of all that is the thing I am most proud of at this point in my life.
You deserve to feel loved and empowered. – YoursTruelyMelly
GS LOVE: Any Instagram accounts that are MUST follow? Why?
Melissa: Ummm, yes!!! This is my favorite thing to do because there are so many other fabulous accounts out there that inspire me daily and I love to pass them on!
First of all, my bopo besties: @chooselifewarrior because Dani is like a unicorn, she is smart, kind, authentic, and one of the hardest working people I know; @glitterandlazers because she is the other hardest working person I know and beyond colorful and funny and well fiercely fabulous; and lastly, @bodyposipanda, because Megan is quite possibly the kindest and most intelligent person I have watched grow into what she is today and I get to call her my friend.
Also, I love @thesassytruth_ who lovingly documents her journey as a fat, trans woman of color and looks fabulous through it all. I can’t wait to go out with her next time I am in LA! I love every outfit and post by @simonemariposa. @issarae because she is fabulous and her show Insecure was everything! You must check out the account @fatgirlshiking because I mean it’s beautiful fat babes exploring nature, how could it be anything less than awesome!!! I’m sure there are so many more, but those are my go-to favorites.
GS LOVE: Okay, onto clothes. What trends are you loving right now?!?
Melissa: Ugh, mixing fabrics!!!!! It’s everything. I love velvet, pleather, faux fur, sequins, sparkles, mesh, and mixing and matching them is so fun! I’m also loving that the witchy nineties look is coming back, with brownish lips and dark eyes. It’s a lot of fun to play around with these styles and you really can’t go wrong.
GS LOVE: How would you describe your personal style?
Melissa: Classic, sexy, and a little bit witchy. Like I said above, it really depends on the day and my mood, but I love mixing things up. I love feeling sexy and pulled together so often the colors I wear are more muted and dark.
GS LOVE: Favorite style rule to break?
Melissa: Wearing everything tight as a fat girl, showing off my body. Also, I have no problem showing off some cleavage and leg. For me, feeling sexy is empowering and strong, I like turning heads, but also being in control of it all.
GS LOVE: What can we expect from YoursTruelyMelly in 2017?
Melissa: Well hopefully a blog! That’s my goal for the New Year, because I want to be able to expand more on the stuff I’m learning through my research and just my thoughts in general. Also, I’ll be graduating so maybe a new city or a new country?
GS LOVE: Favorite Color
Melissa: All the greens you find in nature! Red is a close second.
GS LOVE: Any album or playlist you can’t listen to enough?
Melissa: I’m really into this playlist my friend Rebecca made for me. She put artists like Le Tigre, Robyn, Bloodboy, Tina Turner, Nice as Fuck, Janelle Monae, and Sleater-Kinney on it. I’m really into groovy, fun, fierce songs and artists at the moment.
GS LOVE: Any parting words of advice?
Melissa: You deserve this! You deserve to feel loved and empowered. You deserve to feel at home in your body and in your life. There is a movement rising up. You are not alone. Keep fighting and we will fight alongside you!
What are your thoughts about the Body Positive Movement? Leave us a comment below and share how this movement is changing your life.